There are a few of us diehards who refuse to put our kayaks away for the winter. Yeah we have been called crazy but it r3ealoy isn’t that bad. The water is crystal clear and you pretty much have the river to yourself. I cannot stress enough that you have to be prepared for anything that might happen.
I did this particular float about 6 or 7 years ago. I broke rule number one, I went by myself. It wasn’t very smart on my part and I am not very proud of myself. I was on the Bourbeuse River in Missouri. The river had flooded and the temps plummeted below freezing and ice had formed. As the water level dropped the ice had remained creating some beautiful sights.
The water was crystal clear and the beaver were active along with a few otters. In 3 miles I didn’t see another person.
Proper preparation can be the difference between life and death.
Rule number one: DON’T be a Wayne. Never go alone. ALWAYS take a buddy along with you. If you end up in the water it doesn’t take hypothermia long to set in and you need to get dry and warm ASAP! As you are getting out of your wet clothes they can be starting a fire to help the warming process.
Rule number two: Pack dry clothes in a good dry bag along with an emergency blanket. Don’t forget socks, underwear, gloves and boots.
Rule number three: Fill a dry bag with fire starting materials i.e. matches, lighter, good tinder. Make sure you are well versed in starting fire under any conditions.
Rule number four: Pack a first aid kit and signaling device.
Rule number five: ALWAYS tell someone where you are going and what time you plan on returning. If you change your plans make sure they know.
Kayaking can be very rewarding in the winter months as long as you observe the rules, use caution ,and DO NOT take chances. Dress warm. You can always take off layers and place them in an extra dry bag. Winter is one of my favorite times of the year to kayak.
“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere, the dew is never dried all at once, a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in turn, as the round earth rolls.” – John of the Mountains: The unpublished journals of John Muir
Just as life must come full circle so must the day. No matter how good or bad our lives may be, the sun is going to rise and set in the west. With each new day we are given a new lease on life. What we do with this opportunity is totally up to us as to what we want to undertake that day.
I prefer to start my day by thinking about all the things I have to to be grateful for. It’s is important to start our day with positive thoughts. Negative thoughts bring us down and attack our minds. This leads to depression that poisons our lives robbing us of happiness.
One day I was asked, “Do you prefer to watch a sunset or a sunrise?” I was speechless and for those of you who know me know that doesn’t happen very often. I had really never thought about it. I love them both. I didn’t have an answer.
It can be said that the sunrise is representative of the beginning. The birth of a new day. A time to finish what one didn’t get done the day before and to begin new projects. A chance to reflect on the things one completed and turn your attention to what one still needs to accomplish and set new goals.
The sunset signals the day is coming to an end. The fingers of darkness closes in upon the light of the day until Mother Earth is engulfed in total darkness. Time now to give thanks for being granted another day in our book of life. An opportunity to evaluate what wasn’t accomplished. Instead give thanks for what was finished. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The sun will rise again and one will be given the opportunity to tend to unfinished business. Soon sleep will begin to invade the body. Sleep is needed to give your body time to heal any damage that one has done to their body during the course of the day. One’s eyes grow heavy and soon sleep overtakes us.
The day has come full circle. The day has come to an end until the rising sun brings a new day and the cycle begins anew. Once again the sun will rise in the east and set in the west. Unfinished business will be awaiting and decisions about new projects will have to be made. I have a great love of both and it is impossible for me to say which one I prefer. I am just grateful I was afforded the opportunity to enjoy the grand show.
The Missouri Department of Conservation just launched their 2020 winter trout program in Southeast Missouri lakes located in Farmington, Jackson and Perryville. They along with Perry County Sportsman Club and the MDC purchase the trout that are used to stock these lakes.
Farmington stocks Giessing Lake located in Engler Park. Giessing was stocked with approximately 1200 trout and several lunkers were added in the mix to make it interesting. Catch and release is implemented until February 1 at which time an angler can keep 4 a day.
December 6, I finally was afforded an opportunity to try my luck at hooking a few of these beauties. I was chomping at the bit to try my new fly rod and reel out.
It is only a 2 acre lake but there is plenty of action for the trout angler. I started the day with my fly rod and reel. I found that my walking boot really interfered with my casting. I was definitely not on my game but then again I had just got off my crutches 2 days before. I threw everything I could think of at them and just watched them swim by the fly showing no interest at all. I worked until the wind made it impossible to cast and decided to go to plan B.
I opted for my spin cast and a yellow glo-ball. On my very first cast I hooked one. The fight was on. If you have never hooked into one you are missing the fight of your life. I ended up catching four. It was windy and cold but still a good day to be at the lake.
It’s been almost three years since I fully retired from horseshoeing. My health just didn’t cooperate. First I had a doctor treating me for a breathing problem when I was actually bleeding to death internally. Enough so that death was knocking on my door. Then my ankle continually got worse from a rodeo accident in 1979. So I had to hang up my hammer and apron.
I would like to give a big shout out to all the lady farriers out there. I really don’t think they get enough recognition. It’s damn hard work. I tip my hat to them.
As soon as I heal up I plan on enjoying retirement a lot more.
“The art of healing comes from naturenot from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind. “ – Paracelsus
One thing I didn’t give much consideration and I wish now I would have, is physical strength. Presently I can’t put any weight on my right foot. At 66 years old it has produced a little bit of a problem. I have to use my upper body strength to get up and down. I am managing but wear out quickly. I would recommend working on your upper body strength to make moving around and walking easier.
As far as pain I can report that it hasn’t been real bad. I talked to two people who had went through the surgery and had a battle with pain. They are healed up and life is good for them with their new ankles. My first couple days I ran around an 8 on the pain scale but stay around a 2 now. What I call the “healing itch” has started and I am treating it with Benadryl and it seems to be working fine.
The day finally arrived. I had mixed emotions. Nervous, skeptical and hope. My accident happened in 1980. I crushed my heel, broke my ankle and broke my instep. That is when the pain started.
Fast forward to 2019 when I changed primary physician. He referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. He informed me ankle replacements had been happening for 25 years. He said he could help me so here we are.
It started at 10 am. Not sure when the surgery was finished but I awoke around 5:15 pm. I thought they were going to keep me but they decided to send me home. I guess one can really say this is where my journey begins.
I havent taken a step without pain for 40 years. I have lived with chronic pain. It wasn’t as bad in the beginning but it has got worse over the years. The surgery is supposed to take care of the pain. Time will tell.
Note: I plan on recording my recovery through my blog.
The above pic is a spotted bass that I caught on the St. Francois River. It was a tad over 24 inches. Using the App Fishing Scale it put the fish at 8.5 pounds. I returned it to the water only to find out later that the state record is 7 pounds 8 ounces. Yep it was one of those days. Now on to my day on the Big River.
It was just another glorious day on the Big River in Missouri. Bright blue sky with a touch of those puffy white clouds and temp in the mid 70s. I was floating a stretch of Big River that I love to fish. I put in at the Mammoth access and float to Merrill Horse access. It is a beautiful stretch of river with great smallmouth fishing. It has areas of shallow fast moving water followed by slow moving deep water and limestone bluffs. I usually see deer and there are a pair of Bald Eagles that I usually see around the bluffs. The fishing has always been pretty decent and plenty of spotted bass, largemouth bass and smallies.
That day I was having great success with a Rebel Wee Craw. I caught 6 smallies that were 13 inches and better. I had just went through a pretty narrow swift stretch of water that emptied into a shallow wider area of water but still fast moving. There was a place at the edge of a weed bed that swirled into an eddy. I maneuvered the yak where the bow was pointing upstream. I placed the Wee Craw right on the edge of the weeds when BAM! something hit it hard. I set the hook and the fight was on. I could tell it was a nice fish. It was pulling line but the bad thing was I was floating backwards downstream and couldn’t see what was behind me but on a good note I was still in the center of the river. Things were going good then it went to hell in a hand basket. I had got caught in an eddy that was pulling me into the bank and spinning the bow of the yak down river. By some miracle I got the bow headed back upstream but that was the end of the miracles. I was parallel to the bank in about three feet of water. I got it beside the yak and my heart started beating a hundred miles an hour. Hooked on the Wee Craw was the biggest smallie I had ever hooked. It dwarfed the 24 inch spotted bass I had caught. I completely blew my attempt to lip it. I was better than that. Well down under the yak it went and there in the water on the other side was a tree about 16 feet long with all its limbs. The smalli3 could its way to freedom and without hesitating the smallie began weaving through limbs until the line stopped pulling and after three tugs broke my line and disappeared into the waters of the Big River. I could hear it laughing. All I could do is sit there and slap my rod tip on the water over and over like a five year old child. I was devastated.
The image of that smallie is etched in my mind. It looked like one of those big samllies you see in the Bass Pro Shop tanks. Only if I hadn’t have blown trying to lip it. I made a rookie mistake even though I was a seasoned veteran. I had ran out of miracles. Yeah it was one of those days. One of those days I will never forget.
For those of you unfamiliar with smallmouth bass in Missouri Ozark streams it takes a samllie five years to reach 12 inches, seven years to reach 15 inches and nine to ten years to attain a length of 18 inches. Presently very few live more than seven to eight years. Missouri has a length limit of 15 inches on small mouth.
What would I have done if I had landed it? Put it on the board and took a measurement, took a picture, ok several pictures, then returned it to the water so it could finish living out its life. That’s the way I roll. I may have not landed that smallie that day but I will always cherish the memory.
I finally got a much needed night on the river. I finally took out time for myself. The only one I could blame for not doing it sooner was myself. I knew the river would be busy so I chose the Thursday before Labor Day weekend.
My plan was to set out some limb lines. My bait of choice is chicken livers but for some reason chicken livers are hard to find but through perseverance I finally scored. I also picked up a box of crawlers for tight line fishing. I got a late start but was able to salvage the day. I paddled up river to my favorite spot to set up camp. Once I reached my destination I busied myself setting up camp. I got busy starting a fire. We had a couple days of rain and dry wood was hard to come by. I managed to get a fire started with my magnesium rod and cotton balls impregnated with Vaseline.
When the fire was going good I set out to set my lines. When I got them all out I come back and baited them all with chicken liver. I returned to camp and started preparing supper. After I ate I threw out a tight line baited with a crawler to see what was hungry. I was disappointed that it was relatively quiet. The bullfrogs weren’t even in the mood to entertain the silly human. There was a full moon but the sky was cloud covered.
Around 10 pm I heard a lot of splashing going on in the direction of one of my lines. I jumped in the kayak, shoved off and headed that way. I shined my light on the limb and I could see it dancing. I had a pretty nice fish. I pulled along side of the line and could make out a nice channel catfish. I grabbed the line and got it in the kayak. It was a 24 inch channel, around 5 pounds. I rebaited and headed back to camp.
It seemed as if it was going to be a good night or so I thought. Little did I know that would be the only catfish of the night. I had my pole out and baited with a Canadian night crawler. I was sitting there watching my pole when all of a sudden the rod bent signaling a bite. I grabbed the pole and set the hook. The fight was on and I finally landed it. A 22 inch sucker.
I got a few perch after that and they shut down. About two hours went by and I hadn’t got a bite. I went to reel in my line so I could check my bait. I started to reel in line and it felt like I was hung up. Finally it started moving and I began reeling I knew it wasn’t a fish, I finally landed it but to my dismay it was not a fish. It was a softshell turtle probably almost 2 feet across. While I was trying to get it unhooked it broke my line and made a quick return to the river.
Later on while sitting on the river bank I noticed a snake’s head zigzagging in the water headed for shore. What the heck? Now I have had a few encounters with snakes on the river like the time I grabbed a limb to tie a limb line on and found 3 foot water snake wrapped around the limb but nothing like this. All of a sudden it is headed my way. It came out of the water onto the gravel bar like it was on a mission. I hit it on the head with my rod and it couldn’t get out of there quick enough. The rest of the night was pretty quiet.
Sadly my night on the river was coming to a close. I had hoped to catch more fish but it wasn’t meant to be. I couldn’t complain though. The time alone on the river was very much needed. It was so peaceful. For a night I felt like I was the only one on earth. I was able to savor my thoughts without interruption. Life is good.
A morning to turn on the spiggot with the push of a button on my ballpoint pen and watch my thoughts flow out onto the pages of the journal . . .
Opening lines from my morning journal, trying to get something going . . .
Saturday morning, early, found me stuck as I sat at my desk trying to figure out what to pursue next. The latest Hank & Randy painting was signed last night, and as I looked at it first thing this morning, I found several features of it unsatisfaying that I believe I can improve. But I don’t really feel like wrestling with it just yet.
On February 27 I posted a blog about my chronic pain. About 3 months ago I made the decision to find a new doctor and I was lucky enough to find Dr Paul Moniz in Farmington, MO. He didn’t waste anytime addressing my health issues. He has my piercing edema under control and referred me to a cardiologist to address my heart problem and that has been addressed.
I had asked him to order X-rays of my ankle because I wanted to make sure no stress fractures were present. He took one look at my ankle and immediately ordered a work up of my ankle and X-Rays. When he saw them he referred me to Dr Christopher Sloan, podiatrist, of Farmington.
My appointment was today and I am ecstatic with the news I received. Seems I have bone build up on the right side of my right ankle the size of a ping ball, and smaller bone build up on the left, and my heel has some abnormalities. He said the X-rays of my foot were quite evident of how painful it was for me to walk and that he would like to do an ankle replacement. He informed me that ankle replacements had been available for almost 25 years.
He continued to say I would be pain free and could walk normal. He went over everything with me very thoroughly and I agreed to let him do the procedure on October 27.
Needless to say I walked out of his office on cloud 9. Once I got into the truck and put the key in the ignition I teared up. For 40 years I have not known what it was like to walk without pain and I was looking at the possibility of finally getting that opportunity. I was saddened to think that because I wasn’t proactive and basically given up, that I could be living that dream years ago. I could only imagine how much it would improve my quality of life. Time will tell.
In closing I would like to encourage anyone in the same position as me to not be afraid to change doctors or at least get a second or even third opinion. Don’t give up hope even if you have exhausted every possible avenue. Try again in a couple of years. They are making new medical advancements every day and you never know when they might develop a way to address your problem. Don’t give up like I did. To think it might have cost me 10, 15 or 20 years of enjoying being pain free is a hard pill to swallow but it’s better late than never. Good luck!